Today’s blog is wrapped in the creative spirit of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the Civil Rights and Feminist movements, and the phenomenal artwork of Faith Ringgold, one of my creative sheroes. Visit her web site and read her blog for more information about her activism, art, and authentic way of living.
After seeing the paintings for a second time, I can now say the Black Light Series is one of my all-time favorite groups of Ringgold paintings. Her use of African masks in the design of people’s faces and the way she weaves words into her paintings dazzle my spirit. Each time I see the bold colors of red, black and green in the paintings, my eyes sparkle and my heart travels back to my childhood when my parents taught my brothers and I about the “Black is Beautiful” movement. I am madly in love with the Black Light Series #3: Soul Sister (I mention it in my novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One). I also adore the Black feminist activist series of four political posters, Women Freedom Now, Women Free Angela, Woman Free Yourself, and America Free Angela.
If you are in D.C. between now and November 10, treat yourself to a morning or afternoon visit to see Ringgold’s fantastic work at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. For more information about Ringgold’s work in the 1960s, click here to read her daughter Michelle Wallace’s Ringgold in the 1960s blog. Enjoy!
That trip was a game changer for me in so many ways. It set the tone for my participation in the Million Woman March in 1997, creative expression in art and writing, volunteer service, and the work I am doing with the Digital Sisterhood Network.
On Saturday, I attended the March with my best friend, Jason Randolph. Throughout the day, Jason and I had a chance to reflect on how much our generation has benefited from the sacrifices that were made by all of the people involved in the civil rights, human rights, and women’s rights movements. Our conversation created a deep sense of gratitude in my heart.
This morning, I asked myself one question: How can I use the Digital Sisterhood Network to deepen my support of civil rights, human rights, and women’s rights?
The answer to the question has not revealed itself yet. When it does, I’ll be sure to share it with you on this blog and my Digital Sisterhood Network site. In the meantime, I have two questions for you.
What does the March on Washington mean to you?
Are you being called to dream bigger and/or do more in the name of civil rights, human rights, and women’s rights?
It’s called Ready, Set, Pause, a social movement that encourages individuals to take an eight-minute ‘pause’ in their daily lives. Did you know that by taking a daily pause, you lower stress as well as increase productivity, creativity, and overall well-being?
The pause reminded me of my “Flowista” unplugging practices and Digital Sisterhood Unplugged Weekends. So I tried it and discovered it does in fact work. I have also recommended the practice to my coaching and yoga clients. Click here to watch Martin discuss the movement and mindful self-care practice.
Are you under a lot of stress each day while using your digital devices?
Are looking for a way to take better care of yourself?
If you answered YES, I encourage you to try the Ready, Set, Pause. To learn more about the practice and movement, follow @ReadySetPause on Twitter and use the #readysetpause hashtag to share your experiences with the RSP community on social media sites.
Have you visited YogaInternational.com? It’s filled with a variety of yoga resources. The site also offers a helpful guide for creating a home yoga practice that I think you might enjoy. The guide shares the four benefits for creating a home practice. They include self-knowledge, self-help, self-indulgence, an exponential growth. I totally agree!
When I started practicing yoga in my home in 1995 after I attended my first yoga class during an African American studies trip to Egypt, I hired a private yoga teacher to guide me through the asanas (poses). Her name was Gloria. She was a kind, firm, loving, and knowledgeable woman I met in my monthly meditation group. She showed me how to embrace yoga as my own healing balm for anxiety, stress relief, and tight hips, hamstrings, and legs that needed stretching after my long runs. She showed me how yoga when paired with meditation could help me focus my energy on my creative projects. She pushed me to try poses I was afraid of (at the time I was afraid of downward facing dog) in my home practice. She encouraged me to take my yoga practice outside and into my local park.
She also taught me how to create a five-minute practice that includes seven deep breaths in a seated pose followed by child’s pose. When I have more time, I add in a few rounds of sun salutations, cat/cow, lots of standing forward folds, cobra, plank, twists, squats, pigeon, and alternative nostril breathing.
Cyndi Lee’s OM in a Box was one of the first resources I used to deepen my home yoga practice.
Yoga Journal is another resource I use. What does your home practice include?
I have created many collages over the years to remind me to practice yoga daily. What do you use as a yoga reminder?
While I was co-hosting the BlogHer Multi Culti party with my digital sisters Pauline Campos and Dwana De La Cerna on July 26 at the Sheraton Chicago, I had so many wonderful conversations with the dynamic members of the BlogHer community. The conversations reminded me how diverse we are as bloggers with different ethnic backgrounds, family histories, gifts, life experiences, opinions, perspectives, and talents. Check out some of the event photos below. All photos are from BlogHer.com. Click here to see the entire collection.
Did you attend the Multi Culti Party? If so, what were some of your favorite moments?
Walrond’s book celebrates the concept that what makes us different makes us beautiful — and may even be the source of our superpowers. Her book personifies how I feel about the BlogHer community.
Our differences make BlogHer more beautiful and powerful. Together, we are able to tap into our superpowers as bloggers and give voice to what so many others may not have the access, courage, or right to say online and offline. And for that I am truly grateful!
What makes the BlogHer community beautiful and powerful to you?
Reading yoga-inspired magazines is one of the ways I deepen my yoga practice and teaching skills. Tathaatsu Magazineis a personal favorite. The word Tathaatsu means “So Be It.”
I like the magazine because it is filled with information on Ayurveda, feng shui, healthy food, holistic living, mantras, meditation, spirituality, travel, wellness, and yoga. Tathaatsu’s web site is filled with great resources too. Make sure you visit it this week!
What magazines do you read to deepen your yoga practice?
Depicted/Connected features 11 culturally diverse women who were primarily born and raised in the D.C. area. They are depicted through Tim’s self-constructed lens which captures how they have experienced the evolution of D.C. as a city. Through the paintings, he says, “I have sought to celebrate these women as individuals, connected to their environment, but also to discover through them metaphors for greater aspects of the human condition – connected to all of us.” If you are in D.C. on September 27, please plan to attend this amazing event. See you in September!
SIDE NOTE: Just in case you couldn’t tell who is featured in the painting above, I’ll let you in on a secret. It’s me. Tim included a door from Republic Gardens, a club I used to hang out in during the 1990s and early 2000s.
When I look at the sun-like gold window on the red door in the painting, I am reminded of Amaterasu, the Japanese sun goddess. She is associated with the colors red, gold, and yellow. She represents royal power and returning life and joy after dark times, as the sun becomes stronger and warmer after the winter solstice.
BEHIND THE SCENES WITH TIM OKAMURA:
I met Tim on June 9, during his photo shoot for Depicted/Connected at the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery. Smith Center invited me and five amazing women to participate in the photo shoot. The first thing I noticed about him was his easy-going spirit, positive energy, and kind smile. He was able to stay focused and have fun too.
After the photo shoot, I went home and Googled Tim to learn more about his work. When I visited his Facebook page and saw his painting, “Les Nubians Combat Pour L’Amour” and “Courage 3.0,” I became an instant fan. I also listened to his 2011 interview on NPR’s Tell Me More with journalist Michel Martin. During the interview, he discussed his passion for hip hop, his hip hop radio show in Canada, and his ”Bronx Brooklyn Queens” series of paintings that feature African-American women of New York City. I Googled the series and fell in love with each painting. What a powerful body of work!
More About Tim (from his official bio):
He earned a B.F.A. with Distinction at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, Canada before moving to New York City to attend the School of Visual Arts in 1991. After graduating with an M.F.A. in 1993, he relocated to Brooklyn, New York, where he continues to live and work. His artwork has been exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery in London, England; galleries throughout the U.S. and Canada; and he was short-listed by the Royal Surveyor of the Queen’s Picture Collection for a commissioned portrait of the Queen of England. His work is included in the permanent collection of the Toronto Congress Center, Standard Chartered Bank, and the Davis Museum in Massachusetts, as well as the private collections of celebrity clients such as John Mellencamp, Uma Thurman, and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson. He is represented by Lyons Wier Gallery in New York, and Douglas Udell Gallery in Canada. To learn more about Tim and his work, LIKE him onFacebook and follow him on Twitter.
Today, I am celebrating my 13 most inspiring moments from the BlogHer conference I attended on July 26 and 27 in Chicago, Illinois. Check out the photos below. Most are from the official BlogHer photo gallery. I included a few of my own courtesy of my Samsung smartphone!
BlogHer 13 Inspiring Moment #1 – Attending the opening breakfast keynote on July 26 and hearing BlogHer co-founders Elisa Camahort Page, Jory Des Jardins, and Lisa Stone share information about the BlogHer community. Click here to watch the video. Here’s what I learned from the opening keynote.
Over the past four years, the BlogHer Publishing Network paid $25 million to 5,000 women and men who write their own blogs for the Network. They represent a major industry and economy of their own!
Based on the conference attendees survey, 57% attendees write one blog, 30% write two to four blogs, and 10% are new to blogging. Life is the most popular topic attendees blog about. Fifty-four percent of attendees came to BlogHer to meet bloggers they read face-to-face. Forty-six percent attended the conference to learn how to hone their blogging strategy. Developing skills was the major goal for 40% of the attendees.
I HEART DATA! That’s what makes me an Internet Geek!
BlogHer 13 Inspiring Moment #2 – Watching Queen Latifah host the Voices of the Year (the BlogHer “Oscars”). Click here to watch the Queen in action and the amazing bloggers who read their blog posts during the Voices of the Year. I love seeing the Queen in royal form! She has always been a personal shero ever since the 1990s. I love her movies, music, television shows, and COVERGIRL Queen lipstick collection (today I am wearing her Into the Red shade).
BlogHer 13 Inspiring Moment #4 – Listening to my digital sister Arnebya Herndon (my BlogHer 12 roomie) introduce the Voices of the Year speakers for the Opt-Ed segment. Arnebya is the consummate speaker and writer. She knows how to rock a mic with fabulous style (love her dress!).
BlogHer 13 Inspiring Moment #5: Hearing my digital sister Kelly Wickam share her blog post, “Demand the Supply.” Kelly started by asking the audience to photo bomb her. And they did because she was wearing a fierce dress! Go Kelly Go! Her blog post discussed her early days as a teenage mother and the power of using the word “Unacceptable.” Kelly gave us all permission to use our voices to call out injustice and inappropriate behavior! Click here to watch her video.
BlogHer 13 Inspiring Moment #6 – Listening to the leadership six-word memoirs and questions posed by the women who attended my “What Type of Social Media Leader Are You?” sesssions. They were so authentic and thought-provoking. Click here to read the key takeaways from the session.
BlogHer 13 Inspiring Moment #7 – Co-hosting the Multi-Culti Party with my digital sisters Pauline Campos and Dwana De La Cerna, and meeting all of the fabulous BlogHer community members on July 26. We had a great time chatting, taking photos, listening to good music, sipping the “Melting Pot” drink Pauline created, and eating tasty “multi culti” food.
BlogHer 13 Inspiring Moment #9 – Watching Lourds Lane, creator of the 2013 Broadway-bound original musical, CHIX 6, perform during the keynote luncheon on July 27. I first discovered Lane during the TEDxWomen series held on December 1, 2012. Her TEDx talk and performance touched my soul in a very deep way and reminded me how important it is to find my inner superhero by embracing my imperfections and vulnerability. She rocks the world with her message of empowering women and girls through music and song.
BlogHer 13 Inspiring Moment #10 – Serving as an AARP blogger ambassador andworking with the AARP team and Kitchen Cabinet bloggers at the AARP booth. I was able to share information about AARP’s caregiving, Decide.Create.Share long-term planning, and Life Reimagined campaigns with many BlogHer attendees. Click here to read my blog post about my AARP BlogHer experience.
BlogHer 13 Inspiring Moment #11 – Making new friends, hanging out with current friends, and having great conversations throughout the conference.
BlogHer 13 Inspiring Moment #12 – Listening to BlogHer co-founder Lisa Stone interview Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg about her book, Lean In and LeanIn.org. Click here to read my “Lean In” BlogHer Moment blog post.
BlogHer 13 Inspiring Moment #13 – Receiving two mini styling sessions from the True Fashionista Now founder Tyrone Farley, my digital brother. I ADORE his style and blog! Check out TrueFashionistaNow.com’s blog post featuring some of BlogHer 13′s best fashion conference moments.
If you attended BlogHer 13, what were your most inspiring moments?
For me, yoga begins and ends with the breath. When I breathe in and out consciously, I come into the present moment. That’s the place where everything is happening. It’s the now space I strive to be in 24/7/365. Today, I want to share a poem I wrote about breathing and being in the present moment. Enjoy!
All I can be is here right now.
Present. Standing still in mountain pose. Grounding myself in Mother Earth.
Knowing that all the stuff that clamors for my attention is just stuff.
That’s it … just stuff that can be paused for a moment with a deep breath.
So I breathe freely and release through my mouth.
My deep breathing slows down.
I return to normal breath.
The air comes in and out of my nose.
My shoulders relax.
My neck settles into a softness it has not always known.
My chest area feels more open.
My core supports me with additional strength, giving way to a lengthened spine.
I remember the mantra and say it quietly.
All I can be is here right now.
It rearranges itself.
I follow its lead and repeat it in its new order.
Right here now is where I am.
Right here now is where I am.
Right here now is where I am.
Where I am is holding all my stuff that continues to clamor for my attention despite my long deep breaths.
The mantra reappears.